Johnson & Johnson's CEO to Answer Talcum Powder Cancer Questions
It is likely that JNJ's targeting of African American women to buy Johnson's Baby Powder will come into question
Wednesday, October 24, 2018 - Thousands of lawsuits have been unleashed against Johnson & Johnson since a jury awarded 22 plaintiffs a total of $4.69 billion dollars in damages, the sixth largest amount in US history. The plaintiffs, some of whom have since passed away, alleged that talcum powder, the primary ingredient in Johnson's Baby Powder, is contaminated with asbestos that contributed to their ovarian cancer. For over half a century, Johnson & Johnson have been encouraging women to use their bath and baby powders liberally on their children and on themselves for feminine hygiene. The iconic advertising slogan, "A sprinkle a day helps keep odors away" says it all.
As a result of the enormous punitive damages award, a judge in Missouri has requested that Alex Gorsky, the chief executive officer at Johnson & Johnson, appear before the court to answer questions put to him by the plaintiff's attorneys pertaining to his denial that Johnson's Baby Powder contains asbestos. According to a recent article in Bloomberg.com, Gorky told analysts recently that officials at Johnson & Johnson are "confident that our products do not contain asbestos and do not cause ovarian cancer." At issue is what Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) executives knew about their talc supply containing asbestos and how the company altered its marketing strategy to reflect their knowledge.
As suspenseful as anticipating the CEO's answers may be, everyone knows that a good lawyer never asks a question when the answer is not already known. Court documents revealed in previous Johnson's Baby Powder trials show that JNJ attorneys knew of a presence of asbestos in talc decades ago and inquired with executives as to the maximum allowable percentage of asbestos. Other memos said that the company was aware of the link between the carcinogenic nature of talc itself and the incidences of ovarian cancer. Rather than place a warning label on Johnson's Baby Powder products, JNJ decided to redirect their advertising towards African American women whom they deemed to be a less well-informed demographic. Many articles have been written on how women were "race shamed" into thinking that they smelled worse than their white counterparts and that they could rectify the situation by using Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower.
Scientific studies dating back fifty years or more make it hard to believe that JNJ executives were unaware of the connection between talc and cancer. The findings of the National Institute of Health are just one case in point. "In the 1960s, a link between talc and ovarian cancer was suggested by observations that some talc powders contained asbestos and that asbestos placed intraperitoneally in animals transformed the single layer of the ovarian surface to a multilayered one with abnormal cells. A 1971 study found particles compatible with talc in human ovarian and uterine cancers. A 1982 case-control study was the first to link genital talc use with ovarian cancer. Dozens more followed confirming the association including some larger ones cited here. In 2006, the International Agency for Research on Cancer declared that talc used genitally is possibly carcinogenic."